COMET • Vol. 16, No. 07 – 10 September 2015


Results Released for the 2014-15 California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress

Source: California Department of Education
URL (Results): 

This spring, over three million California students took the computer-based Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments in mathematics and English language arts/literacy, as well as the paper-based California Standards Tests (CST) in science. The tests were the first administered under the new California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) System (

Yesterday (9/9/2015), State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson released the results of these assessments and stated, “The results show our starting point as a state, a window into where California students are in meeting tougher academic standards that emphasize critical thinking, problem solving, and analytical writing. California’s new standards and tests are challenging for schools to teach and for students to learn, so I am encouraged that many students are at or near achievement standards. However, just as we expected, many students need to make more progress. Our job is to support students, teachers, and schools as they do.”

Links to reports of results and research files are available on the California Department of Education (CDE) CAASPP Results webpage: The CAASPP reports display results at the state, county, district, and school levels. A page of frequently asked questions is available at

The CAASPP tests for English language arts/literacy and mathematics were given to students in grades three through eight and grade eleven. They consist of two parts: (a) an adaptive test taken on a computer that gives students different follow-up questions based on their answers and (b) a performance task that challenges students to apply their knowledge and skills to real-world problems.

Students’ scores fell into one of four achievement levels: standard exceeded, standard met, standard nearly met, and standard not met. Overall, 44% of the state’s students met or exceeded the English language arts/literacy standard, and 33% met or exceeded the mathematics standard, with another 29% nearly meeting that standard. See for a table containing these results, followed by tables showing a breakdown of performance by factors such as grade level, English proficiency, and ethnicity/race.

California’s state universities and most community colleges use the 11th grade results as an early signal of readiness to take college courses. In English language arts/literacy, readiness or conditional readiness for college work was demonstrated by 56% of the 11th graders tested, while in math, 29% of the 11th graders demonstrated readiness or conditional readiness.

The California Standards Test for science was administered to students in grades five, eight, and ten. These assessments are not aligned with California’s recently adopted Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Assessments based on these standards are currently being developed. Overall, the percentage of students scoring Proficient and Advanced on the science assessment dropped from 61% in 2014 to 57% in 2015.

Related articles: 

(a) Webcast: Smarter Balanced Digital Library

Source: CAASPP Update, Issue 118 – 9 September 2015

Today (9/10/2015), from 1 to 2 p.m. PT, Educational Testing Service (ETS) and the California Department of Education will present the Smarter Balanced Digital Library webcast. The webcast will cover such topics as (a) how the Digital Library supports formative assessment and (b) instructions for accessing and navigating the Digital Library. In addition, the presenters and special guest Chrys Mursky (Director of Smarter Balanced Supports for Instruction) will respond to questions from viewers.

The Digital Library provides subject- and grade-specific resources intended to help educators apply the formative assessment process during daily instruction. In addition, the Digital Library has collaboration features that allow users to rate materials and share their expertise with educators across the country.

The webcast can be viewed, and questions can be submitted, on the CAASPP Webcast web page: No preregistration or logon account is required. Materials and the archive of this webcast will be available in the “Webcast Archives” section of the CAASPP Training Videos and Resources web page:

(b) What Parents Need to Know about California’s Common Core-Aligned Tests

Source: EdSource – 7 September 2015

EdSource presents answers to a series of frequently asked questions about the CAASPP on the web page above.

CAASPP: Presentation to the California State Board of Education

URL (Agenda):
URL (Agenda Item): 

Item 1 on the California State Board of Education (SBE) agenda for last week’s meeting was “California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress: Update on Program Activities…”). The lead presenter for this nearly 2-hour agenda item was Keric Ashley, who serves as Deputy Superintendent for the District, School, and Innovation Branch of the California Department of Education (CDE).

He began with a PowerPoint presentation entitled “Starting Points: Understanding Smarter Balanced Baseline Scores.” The presentation provided the Board with an overview of how the CAASPP results would be reported to parents and the public. View the PPT file at The information generated a number of questions from Board members. At one point, Tony Alpert, Executive Director of Smarter Balanced, joined Keric to answer some questions and provide more details. Michelle Center, new Director of CDE’s Assessment Development and Administration Division, also provided input, as did Cindy Kazanis, Director of CDE’s Analysis, Measurement and Accountability Reporting Division.

The agenda item included the following information: “To assist parents in understanding the ISR (Individual Student Reports) and the Smarter Balanced test results, the CDE has recently posted a Guide to Understanding Your CAASPP Student Score Report: Additionally, the CDE, in collaboration with the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and with support from the California State Parent Teacher Association, has also posted a Parent Guide to the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments: Overview and Sample Questions on the CDE CAASPP Web page under the Students and Parents Tab at The CDE, in collaboration with the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, is currently working on a teacher guide to be released shortly.”

Topics also included outreach and professional development activities, the California Alternate Assessment, Summative Assessment in Primary Languages other than English, an update on the Smarter Balanced Digital Library of Formative Resources, and an update on California Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) Assessments.

Board member Trish Williams stated that she has been on the “NGSS Team” for 4.5 years and said that one reason she was happy to be reappointed by the Governor was so that she could “stay with NGSS and do my best to ensure policy coherency all the way through, so that science actually returns to K-12 as more of a core discipline instead of an also-ran kind of discipline to ELA and math.” She mentioned the science assessment work of Stanford’s Jonathan Osborne (see Current Research– His research team’s perspective on what the science assessments should look like are consistent with those of all science education organizations such as the California Science Teachers Association—“They don’t want it to start weak [and get progressively stronger],” Trish Williams said. She recommends that CDE consult with all of these groups as the new science assessment is developed.

Toward the end of his presentation, Keric Ashley reiterated that “one of the guiding principles is that these assessments are about improving teaching and learning” (not serving in a gate-keeping capacity).

A video of the informative discussion of this agenda item is available online at

Related note: Mathematics and Science Framework Updates

Later in last Wednesday’s meeting of the State Board of Education (Item 12), Trish Williams praised the hard work of the members of the science framework committee and noted that the “well-documented and well-researched” science framework draft is currently 1900 pages long. At the end of October, the draft will go to the full Instructional Quality Commission for review and a recommendation for approval. A revised version will be sent out for 60 days of public comment. (See for more details on the timeline for the approval of the new Science Framework.)

Board Member Ilene Straus commented on the roll-out for mathematics. “The California Mathematics Council provides not only opportunities for teachers to collaborate [at its conferences] but also leaders [in its Leadership Strands], so I am encouraging people to pay attention to the continued rollout because obviously one or two years of rollouts are just the beginning of what it’s going to really take to fully implement our new Mathematics Framework.”

California Mathematics Education Over the Last Quarter-Century: A Brief Review of the Influence of the National Research Council and National Council of Teachers of Mathematics

“The focus of school mathematics is shifting…to a singular focus on a significant common core of mathematics for all students.” — Lynn Arthur Steen, former President of the MAA (Mathematical Association of America), wrote in 1989.

Steen’s recent passing ( has brought to mind his numerous contributions to mathematics education, notably his commitment to quantitative literacy and his influential publication, Everybody Counts: A Report to the Nation on the Future of Mathematics Education. For many, this small volume served as a catalyst for a new way of thinking about mathematics and its instruction.

Commissioned by the National Research Council (NRC), Everybody Counts was published the same year that the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM, released its influential Curriculum and Evaluation Standards for School Mathematics (1989), which was followed by Professional Standards for Teaching Mathematics (1991), and Assessment Standards for School Mathematics (1995). These documents were followed in 2000 by NCTM’s comprehensive Principles and Standards for School Mathematics ( and, in 2006, by Curriculum Focal Points for Grades Prekindergarten Through Grade 8, which included both content standards and process standards.

The Mathematics Framework for California Public Schools (1992) reflected the teaching philosophy espoused by NRC’s and NCTM’s 1989 documents, although the state’s mathematics frameworks adopted in 1998 and 2005 focused solely on the state’s Mathematics Content Standards adopted in 1997 (

California’s current mathematics framework supports “the underlying principles of the California Common Core State Standards for Mathematics” (, which were adopted in 2010 (with modifications in 2013; These include both the Standards for Mathematical Content and the Standards for Mathematical Practice. The framework notes that the “practices rest on important ‘processes and proficiencies’ with longstanding importance in mathematics education. The first of these are the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics’ process standards of problem solving, reasoning and proof, communication, representation, and connections. The second are the strands of mathematical proficiency specified in the National Research Council’s report Adding It Up [(]: adaptive reasoning, strategic competence, conceptual understanding, procedural fluency, and productive disposition…” (p. 15,

The quotation by Steen that introduced this brief summary was written 26 years ago in Everybody Counts (p. 81). Progress in mathematics education, as in all areas, results from the collective toil of numerous individuals over the years, and strides continue to be made because of this diligence and, as Sir Isaac Newton stated, because we “stand on the shoulders of giants.”


Registration is Now Open for the California Mathematics Council (CMC) Fall 2015 Conferences

The California Mathematics Council-South (CMC-South) 2015 conference will be held at the Palm Springs Convention Center on November 6-7. Visit for session titles and descriptions. More information is available at

Full-time college students aspiring to be classroom teachers have an outstanding opportunity to attend the 2-day CMC-South conference free of charge and receive a free 1-year membership to CMC if selected to serve as a Student Host. To apply, visit

The CMC-North 2015 Conference will be held at the Asilomar Conference Grounds in Pacific Grove on December 11-13. Visit for more information about keynote speakers, registration, and more.

CMC-North will announce details about its Student Host opportunity later this month. Information will be shared electronically with California Mathematics Project directors, California State University mathematics educators, and California Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators when available. Also check the CMC-North conference web pages.)

California Science Education Conference Preregistration Ends Next Monday

Source: California Science Teachers Association

The California Science Teachers Association’s annual conference will be held on October 2-4 in Sacramento. Visit to view the schedule for this conference, which will include a variety of session types–from hands-on workshops to 3-hour and 6-hour courses.

Advance registration for the conference ends on September 14. The California Science Education conference home page ( includes information about education funding in the State Budget that was approved by Governor Brown in June. The budget includes funds to support teacher professional development and to implement districts’ Local Control and Accountability Plans (LCAPs). These funds might be able to be used to support conference travel.

California STEM Symposium will be held in Anaheim Next Month


The Third Annual California STEM Symposium will be held at the Anaheim Convention Center on October 29-30. The conference is sponsored by the Californians Dedicated to Education (CDE) Foundation*, in cooperation with State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and the Commission on the Status of Women and Girls.

Organizers state that the Symposium will bring together thousands of teachers, administrators, students, higher education representatives, program providers, philanthropic representatives and industry representatives to engage them in STEM education by providing strategies and resources for program implementation. The Symposium will have a special focus on increasing and supporting the participation of women and girls–as well as other underrepresented groups–in STEM fields. It will also highlight leaders in classroom innovation from across the state and attract student teams to showcase critical thinking, problem solving, and teamwork.

* Please visit to learn more about the CDE Foundation.

Reminder: Facilitator Training for Mathematics Professional Development Modules to be Held Next Month

Contact: Ann Park: (California Mathematics Project)

The California Department of Education collaborated with education professionals through the state to develop a series of professional learning modules to help in the transition to the California Standards. To view the current modules, please visit

The California Mathematics Project is offering facilitator training in October 2015 for two of the K-12 Professional Learning Modules developed to help in the transition to the California Standards. Please see below for details:

(a) Standards for Mathematical Practice (SMP) 

Dates: October 12-13, 2015

Location: Hayward Student Information and Assessment Center


(b) Statistics and Probability 

Dates: October 27-28, 2015

Location: Embassy Suites Hotel near Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)




Applications are Being Accepted for the 2016-17 Student Member of the California State Board of Education


The California State Board of Education (SBE) is now accepting applications for the 2016–17 Student Board Member position. Eligibility criteria include the following:

– California resident

– Student enrolled in a public high school

– A senior during the 2016-17 school year

– Availability to attend a statewide student leader conference in Sacramento on November 1-4, 2015

For more information about the 2016–17 Student SBE Member application, please visit the website above or contact the SBE by email at or by telephone at (916) 319-0827.

Complete applications must be received by the State Board of Education by 5:00 p.m. on Monday, 12 October 2015.  


Science News for Students


“Science News for Students” is a free online publication produced by the Society for Science & the Public (SSP), the organization that also produces “Science News” ( and sponsors major STEM competitions for students: Broadcom MASTERS (Math, Applied Science, Technology and Engineering Rising Stars;, the Intel Science and Engineering Fair (, and the Intel Student Talent Search ( The publication is available at

Students between the ages of 13 and 21 who are interested in science are invited to register as a Student Member of SSP. For more information, visit

Mathematics Competitions for Middle and High School Students Sponsored by the Mathematical Association of America


The Mathematical Association of America sponsors a number of prestigious mathematics competitions for students throughout the year, culminating in the International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO;, which was won by a team from the United States this year. These competitions include the following:

– American Mathematics Contest 8 (AMC 8)

– American Mathematics Contest 10 (AMC 10)

– American Mathematics Contest 12 (AMC 12)

– American Invitational Mathematics Examination (AIME)

– The Putnam Competition

– United States of America Mathematical Olympiad (USAMO)

The next competition, to be held on November 17, is the AMC 8, which is a 25-question, 40-minute multiple choice examination. “The examination provides an opportunity to apply the concepts taught at the junior high level to problems which not only range from easy to difficult but also cover a wide range of applications. Many problems are designed to challenge students and to offer problem solving experiences beyond those provided in most junior high school mathematics classes. High scoring students are invited to participate in the AMC 10.”

For more information about this test, visit